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Anyone caught an American Lionfish?
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The Old Salt
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Joined: 01 Apr 2003
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: 2005.04.15(Fri)15:48    Post subject: Reply with quote

These things are also found in inshore areas only a few feet deep, right where swimmers can encounter them. I saw a photo once of one swimming by a boat ramp.

want to know how they got there?

It wasn't ballastwater from a ship.
It wasn't hobbyists releasing them.
It wasn't a mass-escape from a holding facility during a hurricane.

The truth is a crying shame:

Dive tour operators!

Yes, you'd think these guys would have known better, but the sad fact is that it became a quiet little fad for a short time for dive tour operators to "plant" a few nice specimens on their favorite dive sites so that the customers would have something nifty to see. Lionfish have a habit of establishing a small territory in which they remain, so they were a natural choice for this purpose since they would be easy to find on subsequent dives.
It didn't occur to anyone that they would not only survive, but spawn.

Now they are firmly established.
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.04.16(Sat)9:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhh, you know Old Salt, I never thought of tour operators, but it kinda makes sense I guess. Lionfish do make for nice photos! Everything I'm reading says they are limited to deeper water due to temp, but I'm sure they soon will be (or are now) probably hiding under a dock in some Florida inlet.
You're right, lots of rumors out there about the start of all this... where did you hear about the tour operators planting pacific species, was it confirmed or published in the news, and what state was that?
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The Old Salt
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Joined: 01 Apr 2003
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: 2005.04.16(Sat)13:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are some guys under investigation for it in Georgia, according to some little blurb I read in the paper.
There was an article about this problem in an issue of SeaScope last year, and one dive shop girl I mentioned it to knew a lot about it, so it seems to be causing some ripples in the dive industry.

The lionfish spread across too large an area and in too sudden a time for it to have been plausibly caused by hobbyist release or shipping accident. One year there are none, and the next there are hundreds of adults scattered all over the entire eastern seaboard on popular dive sites. The next year juveniles make their first appearances.

It's pretty obvious what happened.

The thing I read in the paper mentioned that the dive shop under investigation ( Savannah, I think? ) had purchased several specimens from a local petshop but couldn't account for their whereabouts.
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.04.16(Sat)14:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seascope Volume 21 no.2, article by Goldstein... I just read the article, he appears to lean toward the possibilty of ballast intro, I do see the dive operators listed as a possibilty also but no reference to news articles... if you find the news blurb online let me know. He notes the eggs are laid by the thousands in jelly-like masses, interesting. It's all really too bad, P. volitans is a georgeous creature, and deserves better than to be skewered on a damned spear point, IMO. Here's the link to the article:
http://64.233.179.104/search?q=cache:28NLHjXTXWkJ:www.marineland.com/seascope/ss_Issue2_04.pdf+seascope+article+lionfish+in+atlantic&hl=en
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